The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, June 23, 2006

House Republicans deep six Voting Rights Act vote

Please keep in mind that any complaints of GOP efforts to tilt elections in favor of their party over the past six years are nothing more than the feverish ravings of conspiracy theorists.

House leaders abruptly canceled a vote to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act yesterday after rank-and-file Republicans revolted over provisions that require bilingual ballots in many places and continued federal oversight of voting practices in Southern states.

The intensity of the complaints, raised in a closed meeting of GOP lawmakers, surprised Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his lieutenants, who thought the path was clear to renew the act's key provisions for 25 years. The act is widely considered a civil rights landmark that helped thousands of African Americans gain access to the ballot box. Its renewal seemed assured when House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders embraced it in a May 2 kickoff on the Capitol steps.

The House Rules Committee had agreed to let Georgia lawmakers offer two amendments that would make it easier for states to become exempt from the Voting Rights Act. House leaders had expressed confidence that the amendments would fail. But the committee rejected King's request for an amendment to end the multilingual requirements.

That was "a gigantic mistake," said Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (R-Ga.), a leading critic of the act's renewal. "What people are really upset about is bilingual ballots," he said. "The American people want this to be an English-speaking nation."

I'll bet the American people want this to be a nation where citizens have the right to vote, too.